A new wave of expats are surfing in on your break, says Ernie
Diaz, editor of www.chinaexpat.com. In his post, titled Flooded
by the Third Wave, Diaz describes a richer, more motivated
"third wave of expats", who pose a threat to their predecessors in
Beijing. Identifying himself as part of "the second wave", Diaz
says he, "can't throw a rock in this city anymore without hitting
two or three earnest white collar Westerners with defined career
paths, paying Tokyo rents."
"They are level-headed, ambitious, and want a privileged Western
lifestyle just like the one they left back in Wonderland," writes
In contrast, he describes expats of his own era as, "the
gentlemen of fortune who set sail for the Orient to escape the Man,
sleeping in 40 yuan bathhouses instead of apartments".
"Where are the buccaneers I used to trip over outside the Den,
the ones with the outstanding warrants back home, the ones with
nothing in their pockets but a billion dollar business plan on a
Heineken-soaked cocktail napkin?" writes Diaz.
He concludes that most of his contemporaries have likely set
sail for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, or Vientiane, Laos - "places
where $200 still gets you a month's rent, maid included, and the
rumble of the WTO is still far away enough to avoid the stampede of
global capital and the winds of inflation it leaves in its
"Grisham's Law of economics holds that bad money drives out good
money. Jack's law of ex-patriotism states that laowai with more
money drive out those with less," Diaz writes.
"Don't take it the wrong way, third wavers - welcome to your
party. You gotta wonder what the first wavers thought of us second
wavers, with their Pigeon bicycles and kungfu jackets. I'd like to
go ask one, but they're like snow leopards nowadays. Economic
arbitrage makes endangered species of us all."
Diaz's post drew a response from a reader using the name, "male
man", who compared the sentiments with people in Germany
reminiscing over the "good old days" before the wall came down:
"I remember in Berlin around seven years ago, everyone on the
West side would tell me, 'Oh, it was much better before the wall
came down. Back then, the best clubs were hoppin' and a boppin'
here. Now, those Russian-mafia types have wrecked everything'," the
"Meanwhile, on the East side, folks would lament for the 'good
old days' when you could get all the essentials for a happy life
without the sky-high Euro prices ... sure you had to wait in line
for a couple of hours for some toilet paper, but what the hell,
talking to your neighbor/citizen-spy... much better than those
Romanian soap operas."
He comforts Diaz with the prediction that post-Olympics Beijing
will lose some of its appeal for this new breed of expats.
(China Daily February 1, 2008)